Scholarship Program

SAFE Scholarships

Apply for a SAFE Scholarship!

The 2024 SAFE Scholarship Application will open on July 1st!

SAFE scholarships include include named scholarships: The Dr. James Watson (sponsored by The Toro Co.), these include scholarships for students in Graduate, Four-year, and Two-year programs, and the Dr. Fred Grau, funded by The SAFE Foundation for the top two-year student.

Depending upon funding availability, SAFE may award additional scholarships.

The deadline for all Scholarship / Grant applications is Oct. 15.

About the SAFE Scholarship Program

SAFE annually awards scholarships to students who are planning a career in the sports turf industry. Since its inception, the SAFE Foundation has presented more than $225,000 in scholarships and travel to the SFMA Conference and Exhibition to more than 120 students.

Each year, SAFE awards several named scholarships: the Dr. James Watson Graduate Scholarship, the Dr. James Watson Scholarships for Graduate, Four-year and Two-year students and the Dr. Fred Grau Scholarship. The Watson Scholarships are named in honor of long-time green industry researcher and consultant Dr. James Watson, are funded by the Toro Giving Program, and are presented to the top graduate and undergraduate scholarship recipients. The top recipient from a two-year program receives the Dr. Fred Grau scholarship, which is named in honor of the first turfgrass extension specialist in the United States. There is not a separate application for these named scholarships; they are awarded to the top graduate and undergraduate applicants.

Students are strongly encouraged to apply for the scholarships. Simply complete the online application, request your references from your faculty adviser and employer and submit it to the SAFE Scholarship Committee. The applicants are judged on academic preparation, cumulative grade point average, experience in sports turf management, and references provided by student advisers and previous or current employers. They are also evaluated on their contributions to their school, department, and organizations to which they belong, as well as their career objectives.


Paul Zwaska Scholarship, presented by Beacon Athletics

Paul Zwaska Scholarship, presented by Beacon Athletics

The Paul Zwaska Scholarship, presented by Beacon Athletics, promotes diversity within the profession through an annual scholarship program for students from groups underrepresented in SFMA. The scholarship award recognizes and encourages full-time students pursuing a career in the Sports Field Management profession. One scholarship per year in the amount of $2,500. Applicants must be enrolled or enrolling as a full-time student at a U.S. accredited educational institution and must have a minimum cumulative GPA of 2.5 (on a 4.0 scale).

Candidates must be individuals from groups underrepresented in SFMA. Individuals from the following groups are strongly encouraged to apply: Asian/Pacific Islander, Black/African American, Latin(o/a)/Latinx, Native American, Members of the LGBTQIA+, People with disabilities, Veterans, Women, or Others who feel they may be underrepresented in the profession (with explanation).

Click here for the Paul Zwaska Scholarship application form and criteria.

Previous Winners of the Paul Zwaska Scholarship

  • 2023 – Maritza Martinez, University of Tennessee
  • 2022 – Julianne Kessler, Virginia Tech University

Darian Daily Legacy Scholarship

Darian Daily exhibited all that is good about our work and his enthusiastic support of the SFMA and The SAFE Foundation was inspirational. Darian was dedicated to his family and spoke often of his love of spending time with his family. The Darian Daily Legacy Scholarship is designed to help parents/guardians provide an education for their children.

Darian Daily Legacy Scholarship will be awarded each year in the amount of $2,500 each to (2) qualified individuals.


  • Recipients must be currently enrolled or enrolling into a recognized college or university.
  • This scholarship will support students who have chosen an academic field of study outside of the Turfgrass industry.
  • Parent/Guardian of recipient must be a current SFMA National member for at least the past three years.
  • Parent/Guardian meeting previous requirement must fill out application and complete an essay, information on how they have given back to the industry and their child’s qualifications, along with student’s high school or current college transcript.
  • Student must complete a short essay about how their parent/guardian has positively influenced them.

Click here for the Darian Daily Legacy Scholarship Application form and criteria.

Previous winners of the Darian Daily Legacy Scholarship:

  • 2023 – Margaret Kaufman, Purdue University and Natalie Kershaw, LSU/Baton Rouge
  • 2021 – Austin Dungey, SUNY at Albany and Jackson Floyd, University of North Alabama
  • 2020 – Camryn Cox, Winthrop University and Austin Dungey, SUNY at Albany
  • 2019 – Cameron Nielsen, Northern Kentucky University and Bryan Floyd, Murray State University
  • 2018 – Tucker Douglas, Penn State University and Jacob Kershaw, Louisiana State University/Baton Rouge
  • 2017 – Haley Churchill, University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire

SAFE Scholarship Application Procedure

All materials must be submitted electronically. This includes letters of support, Faculty Advisor Forms, Employer Reference Forms, and any other documents that you wish to submit with your application.

Please check back in the Summer for the 2024 SAFE Scholarship application.

NOTE: The deadline for all Scholarship and Grant applications is Oct. 15. If Oct. 15th falls on a weekend, applications will be accepted through the following Monday.


Each year, the SAFE Scholarship Program is supported through the Toro Giving Program, SAFE Golf Tournament, proceeds from the SAFE Live and Silent Auctions, and the donations of individuals and corporations.

Click here to see a list of past SAFE Scholarship recipients.